What Is Sjogren’s syndrome?
- Primary Sjogren’s Syndrome: The condition occurs alone, with no other accompanying disorder.
- Secondary Sjogren’s Syndrome: The condition occurs alongside another autoimmune disorder (like rheumatoid arthritis)
Some of the earliest symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome are severe dryness in the eyes and mouth. This is because the condition directly affects the glands which produce moisture.
The symptoms of Sjogren’s include:
- Dry mouth
- Dry eyes
- Swollen glands
- Joint pain
- Skin rashes
- Shortness of breath
- Changes of taste or smell
- Peeled lips
Rheumatic diseases — conditions affecting the tendons, ligaments, joint bones, and muscles — often accompany cases of secondary Sjogren’s disorder. These can include lupus, polymyositis, scleroderma, and others.
Foods that are good for Sjogren’s syndrome
As much as 90% of people with Sjogren’s have gastrointestinal challenges. Since there’s no cure for Sjogren’s syndrome, much of the treatment revolves around managing the condition. Dietary choices play an important role in this and certain foods are encouraged, such as:
Omega-3 fatty acids
This would include foods like fish, nuts, olive oil, and avocados, all of which are good for inflammation.
The healthier fats in grass-fed meat, especially grass-fed beef or bison, have anti-inflammatory benefits.
Whole fruits and vegetables
The many colorful varieties of fruits and vegetables are loaded with anti-inflammatory nutrients. Choose red, orange, green, and yellow fruits and vegetables for their wealth of helpful vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Lentils, kidney beans, quinoa, oats, and more are all high-fiber foods that ease symptoms of inflammation.
Spices and herbs
Various seasonings such as garlic or turmeric have long been recognized for their anti-inflammatory benefits.
Foods that are bad for Sjogren’s syndrome
Another way to manage your Sjogren’s symptoms is to avoid foods that are thought to worsen the condition. These include:
Trans fats are found in foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, like many types of fried and fast foods. In addition to raising the risk of heart disease, they have a pronounced inflammatory effect on the body that can worsen the symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome.
High glycemic foods
Red meat contains arachidonic acid, a type of fat thought to contribute to inflammation in the body. A person with Sjogren’s syndrome should either reduce their consumption of red meat or choose an alternative with a healthier fat profile, such as grass-fed meat.
Lactose is a common allergen. Allergens release histamines into the body, which can in turn cause inflammation in people with autoimmune disorders like Sjogren’s syndrome. The saturated fats in dairy may also cause inflammation.
Artificial sweeteners like aspartame and others may not be recognized by the immune system, potentially triggering an inflammatory autoimmune response. People with Sjogren’s syndrome may better tolerate natural sweeteners like honey.
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Diagnosis and outlook
How can you know if you have Sjogren’s syndrome?
The diagnosis of Sjogren’s syndrome can be quite complicated. Because Sjogren’s can look like other conditions, it can take some time to discover the root of your symptoms. People with this disorder will often see a range of specialists before the final diagnosis is made.
How long will Sjogren’s syndrome last?
While Sjogren’s isn’t a life-threatening condition, it can cause a number of serious complications if left untreated, such as:
Treatment for Sjogren’s is focused on managing symptoms. Doctors may prescribe various remedies for dry eye and mouth and recommend diet and lifestyle choices, such as avoiding alcohol and drinking water regularly.
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Michigan State University: "Understanding Arthritis: The Benefits of a Healthy Diet."
Mount Sinai: "Sjogren Syndrome."
Nutrition Journal: "A Review of the Fatty Acid Profiles and Antioxidant Content in Grass-fed and Grain-fed Beef."
PloS One: "Trans Fatty Acids Induce Vascular Inflammation and Reduce Vascular Nitric Oxide Production in Endothelial Cells."
Sjögren's Foundation: "Symptoms."
University of Rochester Medical Center: "Sjögren Syndrome."
UW Medicine Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine: "Sjogren's Syndrome."
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